Mental health services and facilities are an important part of any community. The expertise, help, and security these services and facilities provide are vital to the people who take advantage of what is offered. Unfortunately, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors does not see it the same way,. The millions of dollars freed up in the county budget seems to weigh more on the minds of supervisors then the increase of public safety, the security of patients that are a danger to themselves and others, and need in their districts for providers of mental health services.
Six months ago, over the the voices of county mental health and medical experts, Fresno County's Supervisors voted to close down the Psychiatric Assessment Center for Treatment to save money and help close a budget shortfall. However, the costs of this vote and closure are skyrocketing, and in more ways then just dollars. Instead of being taken to round-the-clock-care centers, these patients are ending up in already backlogged emergency rooms, straining thin resources even further. Police are being taken off the streets to help secure the patients at these hospitals, and are at times adding to overtime costs for the police budget, already the biggest expenditure for city and county. Mistakes are often made in misdiagnosing or just missing signs and symptoms by the staff, who are often not mental health specialists. In fact, recent crimes have been attributed to the closure of such centers, as the accused have wound up back on the streets instead of recieving
Supervisors claim they had no choice in the closures, and instead opted for mobile response teams to deploy to emergency rooms for mental health patients on a case by case basis, and according to the Fresno Bee, only two teams receive calls during the week, and one on weekends.
For further information, please see the Fresno Bee's article on mental health closures